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"My mind was sucked into a black hole, your Honor"

"Assistant professor Rod Yellon at Canada's University of Manitoba got a ticket for running a stop sign, but he avoided a court conviction for four years by winning at least eight postponements to his trial. Yellon argued stop signs were unconstitutional because the word "stop" is "vague". He also tried to argue that stop signs don't have "standards and frequencies of calibration, performance and testing." After missing a court appearance, he said that his mind had been "sucked into a black hole," making him forget his court date. When he recently tried for another delay, Judge Murray Howell refused the motion. Yellon walked out on court proceedings and was convicted in absentia on the testimony of the officers who had ticketed him. Yellon teaches foreign policy analysis and decision making. (Canadian Press)"

posted by AES on Saturday, March 09, 2002 | link to this post |


Neighborhood Watch: Now Armed, and Ready?

From the newsdesk of Pedro:

"WASHINGTON, DC--The Justice Department today announced that it is ready to implement nationwide its new Enhanced Neigborhood Watch Strike Force (ENWSF) program, which has been in testing since June 2001. In this program, existing Neighborhood Watch volunteers, after successfully completing a mandatory training program, are assigned Apache attack helicopters armed with heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and Hellfire air-to-surface missiles.

According to Ms. Glenda McKinney, 68, "These Apaches have really made it easier to get around. I know I was missing lots of suspicious behaviors before, what with my arthritis and all. I'm still having trouble with these heavy machine guns. They kick awful bad, but Sarge [husband, retired Army sargeant Gus McKinney, 72] says my accuracy's getting better."

The helicopters are supplemented by Neighborhood Watch volunteers on the ground carrying assault rifles with silencers, as well as satellite telephones fitted with special optic-yellow AIRSTRIKE NOW buttons, for use in case of emergencies.

posted by AES on Friday, March 08, 2002 | link to this post |

John "Stasi" Ashcroft Ramps up Paranoid Neighborhood Informant Program

The Washington Post reports:

"In a striking example of how much has changed since Sept. 11, National Neighborhood Watch, the folksy community program that has helped nab burglars and muggers for 30 years, will be expanded to help detect and deter suspected international terrorists."

"The Bush administration also released a 24-page "Citizens' Preparedness Guide" that includes tips on boarding airplanes and handling suspicious mail. The pamphlet urges citizens to call the FBI if they overhear talk of a terrorist plot or witness "a pattern of suspicious activity."
This is perhaps the sickest thing I've heard yet about the "War on Terror!" It's now "patriotic" to inform on your neighbors. Dick Cheney probably never in his wildest wet dreams imagined the propaganda potential of a "war on terror". Fear-based dictatorship, anyone?

"Through the Neighborhood Watch program, we will weave a seamless web of prevention of terrorism that brings together citizens and law enforcement,"Ashcroft said.


Thanks for the article David!

posted by AES on Friday, March 08, 2002 | link to this post |

Bad Faith Comes to the Taliban

Michael Kelley reports: "The ground war in Afghanistan hotted up yesterday when the Allies revealed plans to airdrop a platoon of crack French existentialist philosophers into the country to destroy the morale of Taleban zealots by proving the non-existence of God.

"Elements from the feared Jean-Paul Sartre Brigade, or 'Black Berets', will be parachuted into the combat zones to spread doubt, despondency and existential anomie among the enemy. Hardened by numerous intellectual battles fought during their long occupation of Paris's Left Bank, their first action will be to establish a number of pavement cafes at strategic points near the front lines.

"This is only one of several Psy-Ops operations mounted by the Allies to undermine the unswerving religious fanaticism that fuels the Taleban's fighting spirit. Pentagon sources have recently confirmed rumours that America has already sent in a 200-foot-tall robot Jesus, which roams the Taleban front lines glowing eerily and shooting flames out of its fingers while saying, 'I am the way, the truth and the life, follow me or die.' However, plans to have the giant Christ kick the crap out of a slightly effeminate 80-foot Mohammed in central Kabul were discarded as insensitive to Muslim allies."

Thanks Ron!

posted by AES on Friday, March 08, 2002 | link to this post |


Scientists Discover the Universe is Really Beige, not Turquoise

In a cruel twist of fate that throws into relief the fallability of scientific knowledge, astromers at John Hopkins University revealed this week that the Universe is not turquoise, but beige.

Anyone familiar with Ken Nordine's fabulous album Colors: A Sensuous Listening Experience knows that beige is not a particularly complimentary color, especially for something as important as our universe. I have transcribed the song entitled "Beige" here, but you really aren't fully experiencing "Beige" until you hear Ken rapping it out in his inimitable "word jazz" style.

Impossible to understand beige
Unless you stare at him hard,
Stare at him right in his eyes,
Unless you see beige in the serious beigeness of
Being it's beige self.

More than anything beige is careful.
Insanely so, really.
Almost as careful as that shade of yellow that's afraid.
But beige is much sneakier than yellow.
Wants the entire everything to be as safe as yesterday is
Now that right now's here.

You know how flamboyant red can be.
Heh- wouldn't last a minute with beige.
Probably wouldn't get past his secretary,
Miss Always-Light-Tan.
Beige even thinks that orange is a little far out.
The way it streaks sunrise and sunset.
And just the mention of green,
And beige sees purple which also
Drives him into a rage.

Of course it's only a beige rage.
Not much strength to it.
To be honest as lily white,
The truth is that beige is anti-color.
Unless the color is right.
Unless the color is beige.

About as average as you can get away with seeing
Is the grey way beige
Likes to have things being.

Maybe the scientists will realize they are wrong about the color once again. Otherwise we could be in some big trouble.

posted by AES on Thursday, March 07, 2002 | link to this post |

Cruel Thought of the Day

I have conflicted feelings about Ed Vielmetti's Vacuum weblog. On the one hand, I am very interested in the work he does- complex systems, social network analysis, information architecture, as well as his observations about Ann Arbor. On the other hand, I simply cannot stomach the gratuitous, self-absorbed, ridiculous-to-the-extreme pap he sends out in those regular Vacuum "newsletters". Take this most recent example:

"Poor Saul was under the weather with a low grade fever, cough, and general feeling of miserableness that's been going around town. He lost his appetite, didn't sleep well, and was generally an unhappy boy. Fortunately for all of us he's back to his happy self these days, and none too soon! "We spent most of the day together today. If you walk from our house to downtown along the appropriate path, a bus passes by from one direction or another every 10-15 minutes, and as you get closer to the bus depot there are more and more of them. This always elicits a "bus! bus!" comment from Saul. His vocabulary is growing quite considerably -- "pasta", "bus stop" (from a book, not from real life yet), "sheep" and "zipper" (which sound about the same), "store" and "door" (again, homophones). "We're reading a lot of books together. The latest on the list is "Hop on Pop" (the Suess classic). My favorite line in the book is where hapless Pat goes to sit on a cactus, only to be warned "No Pat No! Don't sit on that!". There's a greenhouse at Downtown Home and Garden that we go to Sundays which has several lovely cactuses, and I'm trying to teach Saul "cactus" (should do "sharp" while I'm at it). "
I just can't take 3 paragraphs about that. I am fond of children. But I am not interested in hearing about trips to the wireless networked ice cream parlor, Saul's vocabulary, and other BS. He sounds like one of those parents you see at Zingermans speaking loudly to their 3-year-old, "Look, Phoebe! PUM-PER-NICK-EL. PUM-PER-NICK-EL. Can you say that? Again! Now, in French!"

My roomate Elizabeth, upon reading his latest missive, remarked, "I would hate to be his childcare worker."

But the grandest comment of all on Ed's communications comes from Pedro, my beloved co-Bad Faither, who said, "I don't know about Saul, but it sounds like Ed shits his pants daily."

Eat your heart out John Dvorak.

posted by AES on Thursday, March 07, 2002 | link to this post |

85,000 chickens killed by lightning strike
(via Obscurestore)

This story is funny for several reasons. First of all, anything involving chickens is funny. Period. Multiply that by 85,000 and, well, you do the math. Secondly, the first line of this article reads:

"SUWANNEE COUNTY-- A flash of lightning killed 85,000 chickens during a storm early Sunday morning, leaving a foul odor in air."

Plus, it happened in Florida, which is my favorite state because it's chock full of wackos. And, now, 85,000 dead chickens.

posted by AES on Thursday, March 07, 2002 | link to this post |


It's a Meat Substitute...It's a Fungus...It's... Quorn
(via Plastic)

The FDA has approved a new meat substitute primarily composed of a fungus.

"Known as mycoprotein, it's marketed under the trade name Quorn." "Scientists found the fungus growing on farms near London in the '60s and discovered that its long strands could mimic the fibrous tissue of meat. Now it's mixed with egg and flavorings and fashioned into imitation meat.

"They say it has potential, as long as the word "fungus" doesn't appear on the label."

posted by AES on Wednesday, March 06, 2002 | link to this post |

Molecular Expressions: The Beershots Photo Gallery
(via Kung Fu Grippe)

Ever wondered what your favorite beer looked like under an optical microscope? Now you can see for yourself!

Chalk another one up to the wonders of science.

posted by AES on Wednesday, March 06, 2002 | link to this post |

Please, Think of the Kittens

Click, and think of the kittens.

posted by AES on Wednesday, March 06, 2002 | link to this post |

Brouhaha at the Crabshack

In the continuing saga of Lobster Boy, frat boys have broken into his three-story structure and managed to cause some damage.

"University police said they got a call saying a group of about 12 males was trying to break into the structure," Carnegie Mellon spokeswoman Kyle Fisher Morabito said. "The officers witnessed some males going up the stairs and apprehended four of them. They admitted that they had done some damage to the property."

"Jeremy Nearhoof, 21; Carmelo Piccione, 20; Edward Woroniecki, 19; and Christopher Pierce, 21, received summary citations for disorderly conduct and criminal mischief, Morabito said. The four, all members of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, must appear before a magistrate, she said."

It has been reported, but not confirmed, that lobster boy put one of the frat guys in a headlock.

posted by AES on Wednesday, March 06, 2002 | link to this post |

The Always Amusing Euphemism Generator

This post is another shameless rip-off from Metafilter. But I really am enjoying the Euphamism Generator, which provides excellent metaphors like, "Unbeknownst to me, they were all inhaling the ol' Nantucket biscuits." If you know what I mean.

It's much classier than my family's traditional holiday limerick readings, at which my dad and step-brother fall out of their chairs laughing at rhymes such as:

Remember that Little Miss Muffet
The one with the tits and the tuffet?
I gave her my largest
Havana cigar just
To see if she'd puff it or stuff it.


posted by AES on Wednesday, March 06, 2002 | link to this post |

Information Wants to Be Worthless

While I really want to stay away from metablogging (blogging about blogging), this article is really so funny and great that I had to hop on the blogger lemming bandwagon and link to it.

"Back in the Neolithic dawn of the Internet, you see, the academics who built it used to beat the living crap out of a businessman the very moment they saw him. One peep of commercial spam on their stainless not-for-profit network, and the net-gods would reach right into your router and just throttle you, like an egg-sucking dog."

And to round out the metablogging post, Tom sent me an article linked from Red Rock Eaters about blogging: apparently bloggers have some sort of angry mob justice power to influence searches on Google. It's a good thing bloggers are mostly a harmless bunch with good old-fashioned liberal values.

And Tom, I'm not posting that link to the live nude cats that you sent me twice yesterday. If you are into that sort of thing, there is also hot XXX chair-on-chair action over at the furniture porn shop.

Tom you know you want your own blog. You would be outrageously popular.

posted by AES on Wednesday, March 06, 2002 | link to this post |


Ad Watch: A New Brand Positioning for Strategic Missile Defense

Fueled by concerns that missile defense research is not attracting enough support from males aged 18-34, the Defense Department has decided to revamp its marketing strategy for new missile systems. “They’ve been trying over several years to reinforce the futuristic, good-against-evil aspect of the program, but they were missing a key element,” suggested one advertising executive. “Most young males just aren’t content to play defense; they expect offense.” A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that the new campaign will be part of a coordinated effort to tie missile systems with the Army’s general recruiting efforts. “Today we’re dealing with the Playstation generation in terms of whose likely to become a warrior. We have to be aware of that.” Test concepts reportedly being considered include: “American MegaForce” and “Galactic SuperDestroyers,” each followed by: “What Side Are You On?”

posted by p on Tuesday, March 05, 2002 | link to this post |

Kenneth Lay Turns “Chicken”

Houston TX—With the impending collapse of Enron, former chairman Kenneth Lay today will announce a new business venture with Tyson Foods, of Springdale Ark. In an interview yesterday, Mr. Lay confirmed reports that he has been searching for a new industry in which to apply the trading expertise that was central to Enron’s once high-flying energy business. “I’ve actually been saying for several years now that Enron shouldn’t limit itself to just energy,” said Mr. Lay, “and now we’ve got the perfect opportunity to move forward and develop advanced markets for other products, like chicken parts.”

Lay sees Russia as typical of the current opportunities that are beginning to open in newly deregulated markets. “People over there have been complaining for years, that they aren’t getting the [chicken] parts they want. They get thighs when they really want legs. Now, with our advanced trading operation, they’ll get legs.” Analysts have reacted cautiously to Mr. Lay’s new proposal, especially given widespread fears that online trading is generally subject to weak accounting controls. But, as one analyst commented, “since the 90’s Tyson has gotten so big they can move dark meat pretty much any place they’d like. They’re just counting on Lay to open doors, and that’s what he’s good at.”

posted by p on Tuesday, March 05, 2002 | link to this post |


Former Guns N Roses drummer Steve Adler has his own webpage. He's still playing the drums, working on his book No Bed of Roses, and has hopes that the band will get back together someday.

"Thank you so much, I love everyone for all the birthday wishes, that is so awesome! I read them all and I want you to know that I want the band to be together more than you guys do! I'm looking forward to playing as soon as possible! But you gotta write to those guys, especially Axl, and let them know you want the old band back! It's a rock n roll band, you don't need all these issues. Hopefully, you'll get to see the real, true Guns N Roses soon." (via Memepool)

posted by AES on Tuesday, March 05, 2002 | link to this post |

More Lawn Ornament Crankiness

"GALESVILLE, Wis. - Somebody stole Osama bin Laden's head from Ernie Boehm's front yard.

"When he first erected the likeness of bin Laden following the September attacks, Boehm put an arrow through the Styrofoam head. It wasn't until later that he stuck an American flag into the top of the head.

"It is a little barbaric, I will go along with that. But this is patriotism, in a broad sense. That's my way of showing my patriotism," he said.

"There were footprints in the snow that looked like a woman's foot, Boehm said. He said he notified the sheriff's department and the FBI.

'"They told me if there was any disturbance to call them back," Boehm said. "I think I'm going to make one bigger. Make it pumpkin-sized."'

(via Obscurestore) Go Ernie! United We Stand!

posted by AES on Tuesday, March 05, 2002 | link to this post |

Public Outcry Over World's First Female Garden Gnome

"GNOME lovers have reacted with indignation to the news that a company in the former East Germany has breached convention and produced a female companion for the traditionally male garden dwellers."

“It is unthinkable, completely unthinkable, to mix in female gnomes with the male gnomes,” said Fritz Friedmann, president of the [Congress of the International Association for the Protection of the Garden Gnome], which has its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. “Isn’t it enough that the male gnomes have got along without females for more than 100 years? Why break with tradition like this?”

As Valerie on Blogsisters writes, "Female garden gnomes. Next they'll be legalizing garden gnome abortions and giving female garden gnomes the vote. And we all know what will happen then... don't we?"

posted by AES on Tuesday, March 05, 2002 | link to this post |


Venture Capital Report:

Rumors have been swirling all across Silicon Valley this week, on reports that XML may be headed for early obsolescence. "We're already two years into the product cycle on this one, and it's about time we discovered something new," said one analyst. On the prospects for a new DTD, David Borman, publisher of an influential industry newsletter, noted recently that "XML-based solutions are quickly getting stale, and, let’s face it, they were never as scalable as advertised. Speculation is that a new DTD, code-named NML (the “N” standing for “next”), will be unveiled as early as next week. Reportedly backed by a yet-to-be-named consortium, NML is not expected to be introduced until the second quarter of 2002.

posted by p on Monday, March 04, 2002 | link to this post |

The Spark's Gay Test

So I came out at a whopping 46% gay. Most women average out at about 33% gay. I knew I got that ink blot question wrong! Take the test yourself and find out if you've been pursuing the wrong gender all along. And post your results in the comments! I wanna know how gay my friends are. That includes you Pedro. I know you're straight, I just want to know HOW straight.

posted by AES on Monday, March 04, 2002 | link to this post |


From Tom:

Local American flag artist creates rousing patriotic prints. From the testimonials section:

"It's not just a flag, it's an incredible piece of art." Steve Anderson, attorney

posted by AES on Monday, March 04, 2002 | link to this post |

Warm-up Exercises Designed for Football Fans

"They're designed to prevent injury as they celebrate a goal. Even armchair fans are warned they can pull a muscle watching the game.

"The most common injuries are sprains to the neck, shoulders and back - caused when excited fans jump up too quickly from their seat to cheer when their team scores.

"Even boring 0-0 draws are fraught with danger as they can cause backache as sleepy fans slouch in their seats"

posted by AES on Monday, March 04, 2002 | link to this post |

Graphic Design from the 1920s and 1930s in Travel Ephemera

This site is so cool- I'm a big fan of '20s and '30s graphic design- as well as turn-of-the-century graphic design and art nouveau. This site is fun to browse and a good place to get inspired with new design ideas.

posted by AES on Monday, March 04, 2002 | link to this post |

Let the Mighty Eagle Soar Redux

Not only does John Ashcroft sing, but now he wants his staff to as well: "...Mr Ashcroft's staff are complaining that printed versions of the song are being distributed at meetings so that they will be able to join in."

"This is not the first time Mr Ashcroft's subordinates have realised that this attorney general is unlike ordinary politicians. Each time he has been sworn in to political office, he is anointed with cooking oil (in the manner of King David, as he points out in his memoirs Lessons from a Father to His Son)."

It's a good thing I've got my tabby cat by my side to protect me from this nut.

posted by AES on Monday, March 04, 2002 | link to this post |

Gender, Skills, and Technology

Warning: academic content

The Intersection of Gender, Skill and Organizational Issues in Participatory Technology Design Projects by Ellen Balka is an excellent paper that lays out the inherent sexism in technological projects, conceptions of skill (versus tacit knowledge), and how idealized gender conceptions about masculinity and feminity all work to exclude women from engineering and the use of technology.

Barka argues that it is not until "work" is broken down in the participatory design process (often employed when creating a large-scale automation or other computer system for an organization) and women's real "skilled" (though not defined as such, and not compensated either) contributions to given work processes appear. These contributions appear during the design process, or they appear afterwards when the system does not work because the design process focused too heavily (due to unconscious and inherent sexism) on male "skilled" work, ignoring traditionally "unskilled" female contributions to the work process.

I enjoyed this article a great deal- it really articulated a lot of problems I've encountered in previous workplaces and in making decisions about what kind of "work" I want to do for myself. I think this will probably ring true for a lot of women even if it is a technical article. The bibliography is great also- something to follow up on.

posted by AES on Monday, March 04, 2002 | link to this post |


Graphics are back for now

Looks like netfirms is back up for now. Keep your fingers crossed!

From David: Looking to develop a mass movement of like-minded people who feel their opinions are not represented in the mass media, who feel Americans consume too many of the world's resources, and are distracted by the celebrity/entertainment industrial complex. Aren't there millions of us? email me to join the movement looking for momentum! [editor's note: this from the man who watches "Shipmates" and "Rendezview" every day.]

On a brighter note, my fishtank has finished cycling! (for those who have stood by me through this difficult time, especially when we lost Sarge, a heartfelt thanks). There are five new fish in the tank as of today and it's looking good.

posted by AES on Sunday, March 03, 2002 | link to this post |

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